State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Category: Illinois (page 2 of 2)

Want to Be a Senator, but Hate Those Pesky Elections? Just Become a ‘Temporary’ Appointee

The legal controversy over the appointment of a replacement to the Senate seat previously held by President Barack Obama is likely drawing to a close.  In the process of resolving the controversy, the U.S. Supreme Court also clarified their interpretation of a key portion of the Seventeenth Amendment regarding vacancies in Senate seats.  This topic has been relevant lately, particularly following the 2008 election cycle.  When Senator Obama was elected President, his incoming administration including numerous sitting Senators including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, and, of course, himself.  Despite its seemingly straight-forward language, the Seventeenth Amendment required a certain amount of parsing to ensure these senatorial appointments would fulfill its procedural requirements.

The Seventeenth Amendment, ratified in 1913, in addition to providing for the direct election of senators, altered the procedure for filling vacancies in that office.  The amendment provides that, in the event of a vacancy, the governor must issue a “writ of election” to hold an election for a permanent replacement to fill the seat.  The state legislature may empower the governor to make a temporary appointment, but the appointee may only serve until the special election is held to fill the vacancy.  A date for a special election must be set by the governor, but the amendment does not specify when exactly it must be held. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap-Up

Did Michelle Obama violate Illinois state election law? After Michelle Obama turned in her early voting ballot yesterday, she stopped outside the voting booth to take pictures with people in the area, including an electrician, Dennis Campbell. According to Campbell and a reporter who was nearby, Michelle stated that it was very important that he vote “to help keep her husband’s agenda going.” Illinois state law (Sec. 17-29 (a)) states that “No judge of election, pollwatcher, or other person shall, at any primary or election, do any electioneering or soliciting of votes or engage in any political discussion within any polling place, within 100 feet of any polling place.” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs responded to the accusation by stating that “I don’t think it would be much to imagine, the First Lady might support her husband’s agenda.”

Charges were filed against a Maryland man, Jerry Mathis, for distributing an official-looking sample ballot that turned out to be fake.  The false ballots alarmed several candidates when they saw that the wrong matchups were checked.  Under Maryland law, Mr. Mathis could be facing a maximum of one year in jail and a $25,000 fine. Continue reading

Rahm’s Residency: Not a Problem?

According to several news articles, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is moving back to Chicago to run for mayor.  Several news organizations and election lawyers question whether he qualifies as a resident of Chicago.  Rahm Emanuel is registered to vote in Chicago where his car is registered but leased his house to another family.  To run for mayor in Chicago, you must maintain a city residence for one year.

It is striking how similar the facts surrounding Rahm Emanuel’s residency in Chicago are to the seminal, Virginia case on voter residency: Sachs v Horan.  Daniel Sachs was registered to vote and owned a home in Fairfax County.  Sachs had a minimum, one year employment contract outside of Fairfax so he rented a house in Washington County and leased his house in Fairfax to another person.  All the while, Sachs paid property taxes to, registered his vehicle in, and had a driver’s license from Fairfax County.  He was seeking employment closer to home and hoped to return to his house in Fairfax.  In reviewing his residency for voter registration, the Supreme Court of Virginia held that Sachs did not “live in that locality with the intent to remain there for an unlimited time” nor did he have the requisite “place of abode” to establish residency for voter registration.

Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

Are red light cameras racist? According to American Traffic Solutions, they are. ATS opposes a ballot initiative to add red light cameras in Baytown, Texas, saying it will encourage conservative voters to come out in larger numbers for the November election and weaken the power of minority voters. A hearing is currently scheduled on a motion to stop the election.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley announced he will not be seeking re-election in February 2011. February’s election will be the first time in 64 years that an incumbent is not running for mayor in Chicago. One of the rules set by the Chicago Board of Elections for Mayoral candidates is that they must have lived in the city of Chicago for at least the last calendar year. Does this rule out Rahm Emanuel as a candidate? Read more about the rules to run for mayor here.

This report was recently released and may be interesting to anyone who wants to look at the “threat posed by money and special interest pressure on fair and impartial courts” (quote by William & Mary Chancellor Sandra Day O’Connor). The report looks at the past decade of judicial campaign spending and analyzes some the challenges and threats to our judicial system because of this funding.

The Georgia Supreme Court is looking at the constitutionality of the new voter identification law the Department of Justice approved two weeks ago. Georgia, along with Arizona, checks the citizenship of people who register to vote against Social Security and DMV records. Proponents claim that it blocks illegal immigrants from voting, while critics argue that it could hinder minorities who are legal citizens from voting. The Georgia Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday, September 7.

The Green Party in Arizona has filed suit against several state election officials, requesting that some of the nominees on their ballot be removed and to change an Arizona law that allows people to join a minor party’s ballot with only one write-in vote.  They allege that these nominees were recruited by Republicans to siphon votes away from the Democrat Party.  Steve May, on the Republican ballot, says that he recruited drifters and street performers in Tempe to run as Green Party candidates, but that they are part of a valid political movement.

Democrats in Vermont are facing a shortage of volunteers as they try to recount the results of the primary.  A number of the over 600 volunteers who originally signed up backed out when they found out they needed to commit to a full day of counting.

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Weekly Wrap Up

Every week, State of Elections brings you the latest news in state election law.

– The U.S. Census bureau has released its population estimates, and if their estimates are correct, 8 states stand to gain Congressional seats in 2010, and 10 states will lose seats.

– An editorial in the St. Petersburg Times accuses Florida’s “No Match, No Vote” law of disenfranchising thousands of minority voters during the 2008 presidential election.  The law denies voter registration to any applicant whose name on the registration form does not match the Social Security or Florida driver’s license databases.

– The Supreme Court has held its last session of 2009, and still has not released its decision in Citizen United v. Federal Election Commission. The Court was expected to overrule existing precedents that allowed the government to limit the amount corporations could spend on campaigns.  However, the long delay has fueled speculation that the Court’s decision may not be as clear cut as expected.  For a review of the issues involved in Citizen United, see this transcript of oral arguments and this analysis of the possible implications of the case.

Weekly Wrap Up

Every Friday, State of Elections brings you the latest news in state election law.

– Two citizen initiatives in Florida, designed to limit gerrymandering, have faced opposition from the Florida legislature.  Opponents of the initiatives claim that they reduce election opportunities for minorities.

– In Illinois, a lawsuit has been filed over an Illinois law that requires the county to use vote-counting machines that make an audible beep if a voter attempts to cast a vote that is blank for some offices.

– The Governor’s Commission on Strengthening Utah’s Democracy has issued a new report recommending “automatic and portable” voter registration in that state.

– Enjoyed last week’s post on felon disenfranchisement?  Want to know some of the historical roots and reasoning behind the policy?  Then check out Professor Pippa Holloway’s article “‘A Chicken-Stealer Shall Lose His Vote’ – Disfranchisement for Larceny in the South, 1874-1890”

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